The confidence trick: Career advice for daughters

Hello everyone, I am extremely excited to let you know that we are launching a new careers column at Motherhood: The Real Deal called The Confidence Trick.

I’ve written so much about the struggle that exists for mums and their careers – if they should go back to work, how they go back to work, whether they can really have it all. It’s something that I think so many of us are seeking the answers to.

With that said, I’m delighted to introduce our new careers columnist – Sandie Reed, Career and Personal Development Coach – who specialises in supporting and encouraging women to maximise their potential .

For our first edition our new column – The Confidence Trick – we’re going to be going right back to where it all started for us. When women are girls. Because THIS, I believe, is where the change needs to happen.

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Career advice for daughters: What we need to pass down

There is an important but rarely-mentioned factor in the skills and capabilities women need to be successful in their careers.  Coincidentally it’s also the career advice many women have never been given – but the advice we need to make sure our daughters get to help them reach their full potential.  

The essential advice for women starting out in their careers is to make sure they acquire, develop and demonstrate business and financial savvy.  Whilst having excellent people skills and developing great teams are very important they are skills women frequently have in abundance, and if this was what it was all about then women would already be represented in higher numbers at the top of organisations.

The reality is that still only 22% of senior managers in the UK are women, even though some 46% of middle managers are female.  Susan Colantuono in her excellent Ted Talk describes the lack of business and financial acumen as the missing 33% of the leadership skills that women need to succeed.  Who knew? 

It’s not much better news for future female entrepreneurs either. There is a funding gap affecting women wanting to set up their own business with start-ups run solely by men far more likely to get funding than all-female teams.  In fact, in 2017, 89% of funding, equivalent to £5 billion, went to start-up teams without a single woman in them, and female start-ups receive less than 1p in every £1 of venture capital investment.  At this rate of progress (or lack of), it will take 25 years for all-women teams to even get 10% of the investment available.

For all women entering the business-world it’s vital to understand how business works. We may have shied away from embracing spreadsheets, budgets, profit and loss accounts, or how the companies we work for plan and set their strategy, but if we want our daughters and our daughters’ daughters to reach the top, the career advice they must get is to develop commerciality, and develop it as early as possible in their careers. 

Do women have business and financial acumen? Very likely, but women don’t always believe they have it, often pointing to not being good at maths or half-jokingly saying they leave the finances to ‘others’ (and for this read male partners or male colleagues), or they are reluctant to demonstrate how business and commercially aware they are for fear of appearing too money-driven. 

All of this supports a perception in some circles that driving and understanding the money-making side of a business is what men do rather than women.  And whilst of course it’s true that men can be very successful at making money, the perception that women are less able lies in outdated stereotyping, a lack of good career advice, and as above, a reluctance to appear too ‘money-driven’.

So when it comes to career advice for daughters, what’s the bottom line?

“Get business savvy!”  We know they will make great team leaders and great people engagers, have great communication skills and high levels of emotional intelligence.  But without showing a strong business-head they may be missing the 33% needed to reach their full potential.

We need to:

  • Encourage our daughters to embrace the financial and money-making side of business, not shy away from it
  • Appreciate early on what it takes to make money in business, how to track it, balance it, develop strategy and manage the costs. 
  • Encourage these skills early so we can give women the tools to compete fairly and squarely in business.  

How can you help your kids? 

With younger children, you could start by discussing different job roles they’ll come across in everyday life, explaining what different people do for work and how work pays for the things around them.  

As they get older, try explaining how companies need to make money so that they can keep paying their staff, who can then afford to eat, go out to different places, buy birthday presents or have holidays etc. Try to keep it relevant by asking friends to explain what they do for a living. And if you know anyone who runs their own business, you could also ask them to explain what it’s all about.

With teens, keep introducing them to as many different job experiences as you can – there are over 27,000 different job titles in the UK so I’m not suggesting you cover all of these(!) but try to open their eyes to the huge array of opportunities they can consider.  And finally, do encourage any budding entrepreneurs – they may be the designers, innovators and business leaders of the future.  

So, for the future, let’s not wait for someone to change it for women – let’s make sure our young women are prepared to enter the business arena with the right advice, the right skills and capabilities, and can grasp the business world by the throat and shake it up!   

What do you think of this career advice for daughters? Do you agree that encouraging commerciality in our daughters is so important? Do leave a comment and share.

Sandie Reed is a Career and Personal Development Coach who specialises in supporting and encouraging women to maximise their potential . Find her at www.sandiereedcoaching.co.uk.

6 comments

  1. Yes I do agree it’s important to try teach girls about business acumen from a young age. The gap at the top is very noticeable even in my husbands field and anything that gives girls a fighting chance in the future to reach the top should definitely be introduced at as young an age as possible.

  2. We are very lucky that our daughter’s school pushes hard for girls to know they can and should aim for more and encourages them to think about careers and skills. I’ve been very impressed so far. One day we will have equality, until then we keep pushing and these are handy tips! X

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